City council renews private security contract

Chilliwack city council is poised to spend more than 90,000 taxpayers’ dollars over the next three years – a total $270,000 – for security guards to protect municipal property.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz defended the expenditure as a routine and inexpensive way to protect public property - and hold the line on city taxes.

Chilliwack city council is poised to spend more than 90,000 taxpayers’ dollars over the next three years – a total $270,000 – for security guards to protect municipal property.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz defended the expenditure as a routine and inexpensive way to protect public property – and hold the line on city taxes.

The contract is also a drop in the bucket compared to the $18.7 million earmarked in the city’s 2011 budget for police services.

“Our current financial plan provides for 25 additional RCMP members by 2021, including two in 2012 and then alternating between two and three per year going forward,” Gaetz said.

“We work with the RCMP to identify their needs and we provide additional resources as much as is reasonably affordable to taxpayers,” she said.

Vandalism at public facilities is a costly and on-going expense for which city taxpayers are footing the bill.

“We find that these inexpensive, routine patrols (by a private security firm) after hours make a difference,” Gaetz said.

A security guard at the downtown public library and Salish Park costs $40,000, much less than an RCMP officer better deployed fighting crime elsewhere.

“It just wouldn’t make sense to have an RCMP member with a loaded cost of approximately $140,000 per year, assigned to one location,” Gaetz said.

The city currently pays for 112 RCMP officers, 95 at the local detachment and 17 assigned to the integrated police teams that operate in the region. The city also pays for 44.5 support staff.

The contract for private security, which is not a new one but a re-tendering by the city, was awarded to Griffin Security.

Staff recommended the firm, even though it didn’t come in with the lowest bid, but because it offered “the most acceptable level of compliance” with the request for quotation, and it has been working with the downtown Business Improvement Area in Chilliwack for a number of years.

“They have a familiarity with the area, the people and problems associated with specific areas and specific people,” staff said in a report to council.

rfreeman@theprogress.com